Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ndizi tangawizi!

We’ve now been living in Karagwe for over two weeks, so it’s fair to say that we’re beginning to settle in. Our Swahili is coming along slowly, but it’s fast enough for one of us to have invented a corny phrase that, sadly, he doesn’t expect will catch on. Ndizi tangawizi! This literally means “banana ginger,” and the inventor of the phrase thinks it has the ring of “Holy moley!” or “Jeez Louise!”. It seems like a pleasant way to express a not unpleasant shock, and even with settling in there are still plenty of these two go around.

Here’s one: we have a digital Poloroid camera that functions, well, like a digital Poloroid camera. Here’s what it, and a picture it has produced, look like:

The stick of lip balm is included for scale. You can see that the pictures it makes aren’t as big as good old-fashioned Polaroid pictures, but because they’re produced on a digital camera, you can select which image you want to make and thereby skip printing any duds. The thoughful folks who got this for us as a wedding gift should be pleased. It has not only made us happy, but it has made this family happy:

We printed this image for them. They were at least as impressed as we are with this technology.

Here’s a picture of a way, way simpler technology that we built and supplied them with:

It’s called a “tip-tap,” and it is used for hand-washing. These folks have a water tank (seen in the background of the previous picture), but it doesn’t have a tap. To get water out of it they drop a bucket down the top, as if it were a groundwater well. Because they don’t have a tap, they don’t tend to wash their hands. Enter the tip-tap. There are two small holes that you can’t see in the picture bored into the top of the narrow side of the can that is tilted to the ground. You fill the can with water up to those holes. Then, when you need to wash your hands, you step on the stick, which pulls the rope down, which causes water to come out of the holes, with which you can wash your hands. Oua-la! You’ll notice that we added a handy soap dish to the frame as well.

Here’s a picture of the woman of the house, putting the tip-tap to use:

Ndizi tangawizi!

As you can tell from the pictures, it is still very warm and fairly dry, but we got our first taste of what the rains will be like last Tuesday. They will be hard. It will be interesting to see how the rains affect our upcoming work, for we are to start a few tank-building projects in the coming weeks. We’ve also been told that the cold showers are much harder to bear once the rain takes the heat out of the air and drops cold water into our tanks.

You can bet what we’ll be saying when we have to deal with this.


  1. The tip-tap is brilliant. I'm thinking about how many I should place around the garden for quick handwashing.